Electoral Bonds

 

Context:

  • Electoral Bonds worth 1,2103 crore were sold by the State Bank of India in January with most of them being encashed in New Delhi branch.

 

 

About Electoral Bonds:

  • These bonds are issued in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore without any maximum limit.
  • State Bank of India is authorised to issue and encash these bonds, which are valid for fifteen days from the date of issuance.
  • These bonds are only redeemable in the designated account of aregistered political party.
  • The bonds are available for purchase by any citizen of India for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Central Government.
  • A person being an individual can buy bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
  • The donor’s name is not mentioned on the bond.

 

Issues:

  • A Blow to Democracy: Through an amendment to the Finance Act 2017, the Union government has exempted political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds.
  • This means the voters will not know which individual, company, or organization has funded which party, and to what extent.
  • However, in a representative democracy, citizens cast their votes for the people who will represent them in Parliament.
  • Compromising Right To Know: The Indian Supreme Court has long held that the “right to know”, especially in the context of elections, is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression (Article 19) under the Indian Constitution.
  • Against Free & Fair Elections: While electoral bonds provide no details to the citizens.
  • The said anonymity does not apply to the government of the day, which can always access the donor details by demanding the data from the State Bank of India (SBI).
  • This implies that the government in power can leverage this information and disrupt free and fair elections.

Source: THE HINDU.

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